In Trump ally Stone’s case, Mueller finds crime in cover-up

WASHINGTON (AP) – Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone may be accused of lying and tampering with witnesses, but it’s equally notable what he’s not charged with: colluding with the Kremlin in a grand conspiracy to help Trump win the presidency in 2016.

The case is the latest in a series brought by special counsel Robert Mueller that focusses on cover-ups but lays out no underlying crime. It’s a familiar pattern in Washington, where scandals from Watergate to Iran-Contra and Whitewater have mushroomed into presidency-imperiling affairs due to efforts to conceal and mislead.

In the Russia investigation , one Trump aide after another has been accused of lying to investigators, or encouraging others to do so, about Russia-related contacts during the campaign and transition period.

Mueller may well have evidence of criminal coordination between Trump associates and Russia that he has yet to reveal, but so far, he’s focussed repeatedly on those he believes have tried to throw federal or congressional investigators off the trail.

Stone’s indictment charges him with seven felonies, including witness tampering, obstruction and false statements, while leaving open the question of whether his or the Trump’s campaign’s interest in exploiting Russia-hacked emails about Democrat Hillary Clinton crossed a legal line.